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Dear MDSC member,
In our last update, we shared with you our decision to change our March 28th Annual Conference into a virtual conference. Now, just over a week later, things have dramatically changed to the point that our schools across the Commonwealth are closed, meetings, events and gatherings have been cancelled or postponed, and, in the interest of everyone’s health and well being, we are needing to change our lifestyles in very important ways. 

The prospect of such social isolation and distancing is daunting and counter to the community building and in-person support that MDSC has offered for over 36 years. The flood of information coming through our televisions and over our internet connections can be overwhelming. 

MDSC is here to help. Our Team is working hard to review the full breadth of resources, determining which are the most informative and helpful to our families and organizing them in a way that is easily browsable, so that you can find what you need when you need it for your loved ones with Down syndrome. 

Whether you are looking for General Information, Educational Tools & Resources, Medical & Health Information (including Mental Health), Public Policy Action Alerts or information on how to talk to your children, you can find it on our new MDSC page: Resources for families of children with Down syndrome during the coronavirus pandemic . Please take a look.

Feel free to send us resources you’ve found that are helpful by emailing us at info@mdsc.org so we can share them with others. And be sure to check back as we will be updating the resources regularly for as long as is necessary. 
Virtual Conference + Supports 
In addition to creating and curating information and resources for our families, we are simultaneously taking a proactive approach to serving our 5,000 members across the state and beyond during this unprecedented crisis. 

As part of our 5-year Strategic Plan - well before the COVID-19 outbreak - we were deeply involved in research on the latest tools, including virtual tools, that could help us meet our families’ needs in every way possible as we head into the future. 

Now, with the developments of the last several weeks, we have kicked our operation into high gear. With the cancellation of our 36th Annual Conference in particular, we have been working diligently to plan a Virtual Annual Conference. We are determined to find and take advantage of all of the incredible opportunities the newest technology represents. 

As you may know, our 2020 theme that we announced at the beginning of the year is Trailblazers, and our virtual conference will be a showcase for how MDSC and our community are truly trailblazing a path to the future through innovative research. 

But that’s not all. We are also looking well beyond our Annual Conference as we consider every aspect of MDSC’s programming and develop ways that families can connect virtually through innovative technologies. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we share more about the ways we will be helping families connect to us at the MDSC and with each other through all our Family Support Programs. To make a referral to our Parents First Call Program, you can reach us at Firstcall@mdsc.org or if you have questions about any of our support group programs you can reach us at Familysupport@mdsc.org
Pulling Together for World Down Syndrome Day
This isn’t just any time of year. As you know, we are fast approaching World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, a day that is typically meant to joyously celebrate our loved ones with a third copy of chromosome 21. Of course, with a dangerous and troubling public health threat and the disruption the coronavirus is creating to our normal day-to-day routines, it is hard to celebrate. 

Still, we believe that this still emerging crisis brings into focus everything that we do have to be grateful for, namely our compassionate, caring, diverse and resilient Down syndrome community. This World Down Syndrome Day, even while we are practicing “social distancing”, we look forward to coming together as a community, albeit virtually, to recognize and take stock of what we have. 
In order to commemorate #WDSD20, we once again have billboards up around the state. We also hope you will join us in some of these endeavors: 


As we face these challenges together, we will be providing vital information, education, resources and opportunities for meaningful connection virtually. We’re thinking of all of you and sending our sincerest wishes for your safety and well-being during these difficult times. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any support or information.

In Solidarity,
Maureen Gallagher
Executive Director